Popeyes has been targeting ANZ for a while, yet later this month we’ll see 10 new locations for New Zealand, with Australia expected later in the year. It’s worth asking then what the fried chicken connoisseur needs to get right in order to succeed in our nuanced market. 

Over the past decade I’ve worked with many multi-location organisations that need clarity in their strategy. When working with clients we use our strategic media framework called TFMX which incorporates an element of looking at the four C’s crucial to any strategy; Category, Consumer, Communications and Culture.

If I was Popeyes this is how I’d best approach the ANZ market.


This is a competitive sector. QSRs are facing increasing competition from other convenient meal providers. My Muscle Chef, Hello Fresh, even supermarkets are offering to curate meals for at home cooks. Removing the barriers of prep and skill from the equation. 

It’s been reported that 60,000 Aussie QSRs are using Square for contactless payment. And technology investments are helping restaurants and QSRs to improve operational efficiency, tackle staff shortages and drive a better customer experience. This can be evidenced by the rise in kiosks at Boost, Grill’d, Guzman y Gomez and the Maccas apps. 

Food delivery is big and getting larger, expected to hit almost US$12bn here this year. Many restaurants expanded their takeaway offerings in response to the pandemic and changing consumer habits.

Now Aussies are ordering take-away up to three times a week. It’s given rise to cloud/virtual/dark kitchens, designed to exclusively service food delivery apps. The global market is set to double between 2021-2027 to US$112bn. This model is pivoting towards ‘sub-brands associated with a restaurant’. For example, one NoodleBox franchise operates an additional three virtual restaurants from a single NoodleBox ‘dark kitchen’, each with a different menu that can only be accessed via food delivery apps. 

Challenging cost-of-living rises on the QSR side, is driving up rents, food costs and staff shortages which is further accelerating this virtual restaurant trend. 

To tap into the already abundant take-away market, Popeyes should be considering technology to reduce the barriers to getting their product into the hands of consumers and as a side-note large brand campaigns upon launch will help achieve cut-through on 3rd party apps which I’ll go into more detail on within our unique culture critique.


The growing number of health-conscious consumers sees a demand for more fresh, high-quality food. Which poses both a threat and opportunity for restaurants and QSRs. This trend is expected to adversely affect the performance of traditional QSRs such as Maccas, KFC and Hungry Jacks. However it presents an opportunity for players to reinvent their menu and attract new customers.

The power of the Popeyes brand is considerable. Jay Z and Beyonce even surprised wedding guests with the fried chicken delights. Harnessing influencer relationships over here will again be key, as Menulog and Uber Eats have demonstrated. 

At the global retail technology conference, ShopTalk, a few speakers spoke about the dualities that exist within Gen Z. They report higher levels of care towards environmental issues, but the generation still fuels the growth of fast food and fast fashion

So while there will be a market for the Louisiana chain’s exports, it’s important to remember that menu anxiety is very real for younger generations – simplifying any QSR offering, especially a new one to these shores, will be important. 


The Golden Arches™ dominates in Australia with almost half of the market share. To achieve and maintain these levels, Maccas also significantly outspends all other competitors. TV receives the majority share of channel spend for the category, which results in significant clutter for challenger brands to stand out. While broadcast channels receive a larger amount of investment currently, as the channel reaches a greater number of people, that dominance is levelling out, with 37% claiming they will stop watching linear TV within five years. 

Digital investments continue to increase Year-on-year (YoY) with more innovations to be in the right place with the right message and continue the marketing role of bigger awareness channels. YouTube remains the highest invested ‘digital channel’ followed by Meta (Instagram, Facebook, etc). 

While TV is great for brand-building, and tactically timed conversion ads, other channels can work in tandem. Fast growing channels like programmatic OOH and Digital Audio both represent good value, and the ability to be more targeted for brands with smaller budgets. 

Priming your audience on one channel to convert on another is all going to be part of the marketing mix for Popeyes when it launches. 


This may be one of the biggest challenges for Popeyes. Managing where to focus efforts, whether that’s store locations, behavioural changes or purchasing habits. 

Your brand, how you are perceived and thought of by your audience, has never been more important. Building it takes time in a new market, however there are quick wins which can help.  

We’re in a transition period of loyalty programs now making way for dynamic promotions. It’s evolving due to the instant gratification drive, shifting how value is perceived. AI and technology advancements will stoke these fires further. If it’s more convenient, does that change how I value a product?  

One thing young value-conscious Aussies are not giving up is food. Almost 4 in 5 Gen Z and Millennials will be spending the same or more money on dining out this year (highest globally), with 37 per cent being guided by what’s trending on social media. Taking the time to focus on your customer experience will be key. Whether that is Insta worthy plating or taste which drives TikTokers wild, the demand for different is not going away.

Making headlines for the right reasons. Pop-up restaurants are back and very much en vogue. Whether it’s In-N-Out Burger in the Valley in Brisbane or Big Boy BBQ in Melbourne, US QSRs have been guaging market-demand while garnering eyeballs and creating FOMO. One established brand taking that to another level with its PR campaign has been KFC’s bucket wedding offer. It positioned the brand’s product in a different way, much like the BeyZ wedding, and this approach demands the public’s attention. 

What’s next?

Online food delivery is not going away, in fact some restaurateurs offering online food delivery (OFD) estimate 35% of revenue is now generated from the channel according to Mastercard Spending Pulse data.

Popeyes has a lot to offer and even more to consider when planning for its ANZ launch. It will no doubt test strategies for its NZ launch and learn as it goes, before implementing that Antipodean knowledge on our shores.

Taylor Fielding is managing director at TFM Digital.